JOURNAL ARTICLE
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[Acute flaccid myelitis after a respiratory tract infection; first Dutch case related to enterovirus type D68 infection].

BACKGROUND: Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a relatively rare disorder affecting the anterior horn of the spinal cord and brain stem. It is characterised by rapid progressive weakness of the limbs and respiratory muscles, often combined with cranial nerve dysfunction. This used to be seen in infections with the polio virus, but in recent years, AFM has been mainly associated with enterovirus D68 infection.

CASE DESCRIPTION: A boy of nearly 4 years-old developed rapidly progressive weakness and respiratory failure after an upper airway infection. Initially, Guillain-Barré syndrome was suspected, but after further investigations enterovirus D68 was detected in the nasopharyngeal aspirate and the diagnosis of AFM was made.

CONCLUSION: Progressive weakness after a respiratory tract infection should raise the suspicion of enterovirus-associated AFM. This syndrome can be distinguished from Guillain-Barré syndrome by its more rapid progression, asymmetrical weakness and greater involvement of the upper limbs. The diagnosis can be confirmed by typical findings on MRI and electromyography of the spinal cord and brain stem, combined with the detection of enterovirus D68 in nasopharyngeal specimens.

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